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Become a Better Writer: Write Every Day

Updated on November 17, 2011

Natalie Goldberg

Write Every Day

Want to become a better writer? Many people do. But what seperates the successful, working writers from the pipe dreamers? According to some of those successful working writers, the answer is simply sitting down and doing it.

Many writers recommend writing everyday. It can be in a journal or a notebook. It can be thoughts, observations or stream of consciousness. You can work on story ideas or what ever you like. The point is simply to write. It says in The Virginia Woolf Writers' Workshop that the purpose of this practice is to "sharpen the eye and ear or to warm up the mind for writing," whether anything comes of a particular entery or not. Poet and teacher, Natalie Goldberg, likens writing practice to running: "the more you do it, the better you get at it."

Beware the Angel in the House

Finding the time to write everyday sounds simple enough, but when it comes to practice, watch out. Virginia Woolf talks about having to kill her "Angel in the House," a selfless caretaker who puts everyone else's needs ahead of her own-- who thinks that her own work is unimportant.

Writer Ariel Gore talks about having to fight for one's time. Because she works at home, there is always someone who needs something, that they would likely not be asking her for were she working in an office somewhere. It even becomes difficult, she explains, to take herself seriously, reasoning that it would not take long to just put the laundry in the dryer, take the dog out, etc, etc, etc. She says it is especially difficult when you have yet to make any money from writing.

Put the Editor in the Closet

So, in order to become a better writer, one must write everyday? Yes. But that does not mean that one must produce award-winning work. On the contrary, Virginia Woolf said that allowing oneself to write badly is the only way to learn. And sometimes allowing oneself to meander and play can lead to new ideas for stories or insights into what direction to take a work in progress.

Sitting down to practice with an expectation, in mind, of writing something phenominal or simply telling yourself that you are going to write a story or a poem (unless you already have the work in mind) is the quickest way to freeze yourself. Natalie Goldberg recommends saying to yourself, "I am free to write the worst junk in the world."

Goldberg, in her book, Writing Down the Bones, gives more specific instructions for writing practice:

1. Keep your hand moving.

2. Don't cross (anything) out.

3. Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar.

4. Lose control.

5. Don't think. Don't get logical.

6. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it.)

Ariel Gore tells her students, "Forget the rules, write the story."

According to the experts, however you go about it, if you want to become a better writer, then the first thing you must do, is simply write.

Comments

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    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I agree that treating writing as a discipline is helpful. As a journalist, I have to write every day, regardless of how I feel. However, after ten years of newswriting, I do think I am growing stale and am really aching to try something new. Writing has become a chore, without any excitement or creativity, for the most part.

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR

      BrightMeadow 

      8 years ago from a room of one's own

      I'm sure they are applicable in many fields.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 

      8 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      This hub is interesting. The instructions by Goldberg remind me of some art and design classes I have taken.

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR

      BrightMeadow 

      8 years ago from a room of one's own

      Practice definitely makes perfect.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is a great reminder of something I need to set aside time for daily!!! Thanks!

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR

      BrightMeadow 

      9 years ago from a room of one's own

      I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wish I took the time to follow my own advice.

    • Ann810 profile image

      Ann810 

      9 years ago from Sunny Cali

      Hi Brightmeadow, I like this article, good information. I like to write since a teenager writing in my diaries, and writing short essays for school. Writing every day makes a lot of since to me. Thanks voted up.

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR

      BrightMeadow 

      9 years ago from a room of one's own

      Thanks. I appreciate the visit. I'll have to check out your hubs.

    • profile image

      WhydThatHappen 

      9 years ago

      I'm rereading a room of one's own right now, and I'm hoping to publish a hub about it sometime soon. Nice to meet another fan :)

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR

      BrightMeadow 

      9 years ago from a room of one's own

      Hyphenbird,

      Wow! 2000 words/day. . . I bow to you. I agree, the little red lines in Word make me crazy,too. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      9 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I usually do write every day. My personal challenge is 2,000 words per day. "Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar." But I cannot totally follow this advice. I must edit. I cannot leave something misspelled or save Word if those little red lines are there. OCD? I suppose. Thanks for the hints and encouragement.

    • BrightMeadow profile imageAUTHOR

      BrightMeadow 

      9 years ago from a room of one's own

      Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. It's been a busy weekend. Thank you all for stopping by.

      Dale, it sounds like you give good advise. So far I have not managed to work in a time to write everyday, but with so many great writers recommending the habit, I know I ought to try harder.

      Sasanka7,

      I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I, too, need to follow the advice for writing practice.

      Lisa,

      I have places where I stash writing, but I would love to start some fabulous, messy journal, too.

      Skylar,

      Glad you enjoyed the hub. Not to push or anything, but if you like Virginia Woolf, you really should check out The Virginia Woolf Writers' Workshop.

      Mickelarr,

      Glad you stopped by. I hop there was something useful in there for you. Thanks for stopping.

    • profile image

      mickelarr 

      9 years ago

      I always love reading about other's perspectives on writing. Very good points!

    • Skylar Spring profile image

      Skylar Spring 

      9 years ago from New York

      Great tips and information. I love the literary references to writers like Woolf. Great hub! Voted up, useful and awesome!

    • sasanka7 profile image

      sasanka7 

      9 years ago from Calcutta, India

      Very inspiring hub. Six instructions are superb for a lazy writer and I am one of them. I'll remember your instructions specially the third one. Thanks for sharing.

    • LisaKoski profile image

      Lisa 

      9 years ago from WA

      This is really useful information for those who really want to improve. I've already been able to work at some of it but other things like keeping a journal I really want to get myself to start doing. Voted up :)

    • Dale Mazurek profile image

      Dale Mazurek 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Very good sound information. I always tell people to write, write some more and when you are done write again.

      Good job, voted up.

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